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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Electric Brewing > Eliminate HLT?
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Old 08-16-2012, 08:36 PM   #1
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Default Eliminate HLT?

I'm just starting to think about an electric brewery and I was wondering if anyone has hacked a tankless water heater to use in lieu of a HLT? For example, this Rheem is under $200 and claims it can deliver water at 100 deg above ambient at roughly 1 gpm. That's pretty good, but I would imagine that you would have to disable a few safety controls to get it putting out strike water temps.

Thoughts?

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Old 08-16-2012, 08:38 PM   #2
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I'm just starting to think about an electric brewery and I was wondering if anyone has hacked a tankless water heater to use in lieu of a HLT? For example, this Rheem is under $200 and claims it can deliver water at 100 deg above ambient at roughly 1 gpm. That's pretty good, but I would imagine that you would have to disable a few safety controls to get it putting out strike water temps.

Thoughts?
100 over ambient is gonna be 160-170...seems fine for strike water. Sparge water, might not be where you want but there is a huge debate over whether mash-out needs to really take place anyways.

Hell, I'd do it.
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Open log Fermenting and gas-can secondary?? I am planning my next brew right now!!
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:01 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'm not too concerned about mashout. I don't do it now, but then again I'm batch sparging and have everything in the kettle within 15 minutes. But I guess you could also feed it with hot water from the household tank if you wanted to do it "right."

Normally, I'd have no problem blazing a trail, however, I never went too far beyond V=IR in my schooling, so I think hacking this thing without a DIY is beyond my ablilities. I was hoping someone might have had experience.

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Old 08-16-2012, 10:25 PM   #4
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If it's electric, you could likely replace the thermostat with a PID. Then you could dial in the temp you want. You would just have to monitor output temp and restrict the flow rate if it was too low (i.e., you are supplying water faster than it can heat it to the set point).

You could probably get creative and recirculate water between the heater and a heat exchanger for a HERMS setup.

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Old 08-20-2012, 03:57 PM   #5
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You could probably get creative and recirculate water between the heater and a heat exchanger for a HERMS setup.
true- you could. but thats more complicated for no reason. its like the difference between HERMS and RIMS... RIMS is more efficient at getting heat into the wort and is more straitforward to build, but it risks scorching due to sugar water coming into contact with the element directly. HERMS eliminates that scorching risk, but at the cost of slightly less efficiency / slower responding control of temperature, and slightly more complicated design.

if you are just heating clear water, theres no worry of scorching, so you might as well heat it thru direct element contact.

its not a bad idea, and actual commercial (albeit, usually smaller) breweries use tankless hot water heaters for this purpose. you can build RIMS tubes that do essentially the same thing if you dont want to buy a tankless heater.
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:02 PM   #6
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its not a bad idea, and actual commercial (albeit, usually smaller) breweries use tankless hot water heaters for this purpose. you can build RIMS tubes that do essentially the same thing if you dont want to buy a tankless heater.
You can also use a cheap aluminum pot and install an element in it (or two 120v elements)...which is what I have. 8g pot, $30. Elements, $25. Two extension cords to power elements: $20.

Takes me just over half-hour to heat strike or sparge water, 6.5g of each usually.

How fast would a rims tube do this? I was actually thinking of this the other day in response to this thread.
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Open log Fermenting and gas-can secondary?? I am planning my next brew right now!!
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:14 PM   #7
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You can also use a cheap aluminum pot and install an element in it (or two 120v elements)...which is what I have. 8g pot, $30. Elements, $25. Two extension cords to power elements: $20.

Takes me just over half-hour to heat strike or sparge water, 6.5g of each usually.

How fast would a rims tube do this? I was actually thinking of this the other day in response to this thread.
How do you regulate temp? Are you saying I could go electric BK and Electric HLT for ~100$?????
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:18 PM   #8
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How do you regulate temp? Are you saying I could go electric BK and Electric HLT for ~100$?????
Regulate temp? I heat my strike water up to prescribed temp, then shut it off and run it into the MLT. I use a thermometer and shut it off when it's at temp.

When I used to just have a single kettle, I'd run my first runnings into an ale pale, then put my sparge water into MLT, now the kettle was empty so I could pour the first runnings into it and then run off second runnings into it.

Never had any of this "hot-side oxidation" issues either. You could use a bottling bucket with a hose on the spigot to collect first-runnings if you don't want to just pour it into the kettle, too.
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:23 PM   #9
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I already use the bucket transfer method because I currently do not have an HLT. I understand you can just shut off the element to regulate temp for the HLT but I guess a BK would require more watching and on/off cycling if I went this route.

I am bored with bucket transferring and may just buy a pot and make my HLT electric like you described.

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Old 08-20-2012, 06:29 PM   #10
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I already use the bucket transfer method because I currently do not have an HLT. I understand you can just shut off the element to regulate temp for the HLT but I guess a BK would require more watching and on/off cycling if I went this route.

I am bored with bucket transferring and may just buy a pot and make my HLT electric like you described.
I don't cycle my BK at all. The only reason to do this is if you're boiling *too much* liquid. My boils are close, but I either stir my hot break back down until it's done, or I add two drops of fermcap-s and the foam all disappears. The boil get's vigorous but never breaches the top. I only have 2g. of headspace in my kettle.

Wide pots are more susceptible to boilovers. Instead of making a HLT, why not use your current BK as the HLT and upgrade to a larger BK. That's what I did and I'm very glad.
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Open log Fermenting and gas-can secondary?? I am planning my next brew right now!!
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